Tag Archives: YA

Fasten Your Seatbelts, October Is Now Underway

wuwfall

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. It was created by created by Jaime and Erin. Want to join the party? Go right ahead, and remember to leave a link to your What’s Up Wednesday post in the widget on Jaime´s blog.

What I’m Reading

fangirlfanart
“Fangirl” fanart by Tumblr user foralllove

I just finished reading FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, and oh my god this book. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK. I really need to blog about it but I suspect it would devolve into just me squealing about it.

I haven’t felt so inspired by a book since I read BIRD BY BIRD. I kept feeling like I should stop reading to write, but I didn’t want to stop reading!

Now I’m chilling out with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, which is part of a personal project to study a few middle grade titles and examine what makes them work. I’ll probably do a blog post with my notes. So far, it’s cute, fun and surprisingly British — it’s almost Neil Gaiman-ish.

After that I’m going to try and reading some of the authors I’ll be seeing at Angry Robot’s Halloween Takeover at Forbidden Planet in London. I’m starting with Anne Lyle’s THE ALCHEMIST OF SOULS (fantasy set in Elizabethan London) and then reading Adam Christopher’s EMPIRE STATE (superheroes in a parallel prohibition-era New York).

What I’m Writing

Yeah, about that…

Last week editing was going strongly and I got some writing done on the side, but this week… nada. I’m not really sleeping properly so writing time has been cancelled while I deal with things and wrestle my sleep back into order.

I’d say I’ll be back on track next week, but POKEMON X & Y IS NEARLY HERE. POKEMON POKEMON POKEMON.

What Inspires Me

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New Pokemon Mega Mewtwo Y

POKEMON POKEMON POKEMON have I mentioned I am excited about Pokemon because I am SO EXCITED to see them bring this game up to the next generation of consoles. And there’s a new PHOENIX WRIGHT game out at the end of the month and I just. I can’t. *flails* *plays all the video games*

But seriously, I am also very excited about the WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2013 at the end of the month. It’s going to be scary and expensive and empower and education and so much fun. I get to meet my writing friends in the flesh! I get to be in the same building as Sir Terry Pratchett! I have a valid reason to visit Forbidden Planet in London!

I am really looking forward to this event, the first of hopefully many cons.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

I’ve been playing ZOMBIES RUN! lately, a fun little fitness app that weaves a story into your running routine. It’s been really motivating me to get my butt off the couch and onto a treadmill, and I’ve been weaving quite a story around my Runner’s adventures. Enough that I was thinking of blogging about it.

Then today I read the YOU’VE SUBMITTED YOUR BOOK: NOW WHAT? guest post by Karina Cooper on Chuck Wendig’s Terriblemind. I took a spin over to her blog afterwords and saw that she’s had similar inspiration, writing a story to accompany her missions. I won’t be going into that much detail but it definitely inspires me to get back to my Runner’s story.

Emma’s YA Recommendations

Writer Chuck Wendig had a blog post up today looking for Young Adult (teen) book recommendations, which got me thinking about the kind of YA novels I would recommend for newcomers to genre. I’ve included my list below, mostly so I can update it on-the-go as other old favourites come to mind.

I’m curious about what books you guys and girls would recommend. What have I missed from the below? Any glaringly missing genres? Let me know, I’m interested to hear from everyone!

YA Fantasy

SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman

TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz (Super dark, super profane, and super awesome. This one will appeal to fans of Chuck Wendig.)

NORTHERN LIGHTS [US: THE GOLDEN COMPASS] by Phillip Pullman

SABRIEL by Garth Nix

ANGELFALL by Susan Ee

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

YA Dystopian

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

THE HUNGER GAMES by Susanne Collins

YA Sci-Fi

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang

(I haven’t read much in this category and would be interested in recs.  I’ve heard good things about EVERY DAY, THE 5TH WAVE, PRODIGY, CINDER, and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.)

YA Horror

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake

(Another category I’d be interested in recommendations for. Some titles I’ve heard of but haven’t yet read: THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST, BLOOD MAGIC, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, and THE REPLACEMENT.)

YA Historical

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

(Recs please!)

YA LGBT

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan

BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan (A slightly surreal ‘gay utopia’ contemporary romance)

PANTOMIME by Laura Lam (Fantasy with an intersex main character)

YA Contemporary

(I include ‘YA Romance’ as a genre in this category because there’s an overlap between the two genres).

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger (A classic for a reason!)

LOOKING FOR ALASKA or THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephenie Perkins

Emma Maree Reviews: What’s Left Of Me

katzhangBook: What’s Left Of Me by Kat Zhang

Series: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book 1

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci-Fi

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything

I’ve been aware of this book for a long time. It’s eye-catching cover has been a regular on my ‘favourite YA covers’ lists, and I only loved it more when I realised there were two faces hidden in the cover.

(To some readers, this may be obvious. For others, here’s an explaination: there’s the face staring at the camera, and the way that image has been cut makes a silhoutte of a girl on the right, head tilted to stare up at the top-left)

I got the chance to read it after winning a copy from Joanne over at Once Upon a Bookcase. She said it was one of her favourites, and I can definitely see why.

“What’s Left Of Me” feels a lot more like traditional sci-fi (like the works of Phillip K Dick, for example) rather than modern dystopian YAs. It takes a high-concept idea — a world where everyone is born with two souls, and one soul had to die when they hit their teenage years — and takes time to explore it.

The plot isn’t the point here. Sure, it’s still got action, adventure and speedy YA pacing, but that isn’t the aim of the story. It’s an exploration of the concept, and secondly an exploration of the characters. I loved that. It goes against YA genre tropes in a very subtle way, and this makes it one of the most thought-provoking YA sci-fi novels I’ve ever read.

First line: Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped out very first breath.

This review was originally posted at Emma Maree Reviews.

Emma Maree Reviews: Teeth

teeth

Book: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life..

I’ve never read Hannah Moskowitz’s work before, though I’d heard great things about her contemporary writing. She’s also a regular contributor to the AbsoluteWrite forum’s YA sections (and an advocate of never holding back when it comes to language or content in YA — her post on ‘edgy YA’ is well worth a read).

So when I heard she had a fantasy novel coming out nicknamed the “magic gay fish” story, I added it straight onto my preorder list. I wanted to try out her work, and that nickname sounded like it would be strange, shameless and right up my street.

Hannah’s style is easy to read, dialogue-heavy and snappily paced. The dialogue feels very honest, which means very profane, and while some readers may find that off-putting I enjoy it. It makes for the most realistic teenage male narrator I’ve read in YA fiction.

There’s only a small cast of main characters in this story, and they’re all flawed and dysfunctional in one way or another. Rudy is a lonely boy, worrying about his future and his little brother, and Teeth is an ugly, angry fishboy who learned most of his words from the local fishermen and can barely construct a sentence without a f-bomb in it.

The secondary characters are less fleshed-out, which is a shame as I’d like to know more about some of the parents struggling on the island.

Trigger warning: There’s also some very frank, bleak scenes of repetitive sexual abuse. This whole book is dark to the extreme, and though the abuse is portrayed extremely negatively I think it would be just too difficult and depressing for some readers.

The ending really caught me off-guard. The twist that led to it was brilliant, completely shocking me, but the actual closing chapter left me feeling disappointed. I wanted more of a sense of closure, and instead I got quite an abrupt cut-off.

I think the ending is supposed to tie into the underlying metaphors and hidden meanings in the story, but I wasn’t reading this book for the metaphors about the environment or government — they were nice elements, but not what drove me to pick this book up. Also (and I fully acknowledge that this is an issue with my personal tastes and expectations as a reader, not the writer’s fault) I really wanted things to turn out differently.

Despite my dissatisfaction with the ending, I really loved Moskowitz’s style and her way with describing characters. I hope to check out her contemporary YA very soon.

This book was a personal purchase. I have no connection to the writer or publishers involved.

Emma Maree Reviews: Seraphina

seraphinaBook: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Series: Seraphina, Book 1

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Why is it that the books I really loved are always the hardest to review?

I usually try to keep my reviews balanced with the good and the bad, but it’s so difficult for books like “Seraphina” when there really isn’t anything to fault with it.

The dialogue was snappy, true-to-life and very quotable. The plot twists were great. The usual issues I get twitchy about (gender equality and representation of different sexualities and races) were comfortingly absent. As for the world building… oh boy, I could gush about the world building for hours.  Every aspect of this book is richly written, from the background religions and cultures to the draconian species.

“Seraphina” is set in a world where, after a massive war between humans and dragons, a shaky treaty has brought peace and dragons now walk among humans in almost-human bodies. But when a member of the royal family is murdered in a draconic style, Seraphina (court musician, secret half-dragon, and generally awesome young lady) decides to help the young Prince investigate and find the murderer before the treaty falls apart.

It’s no secret that I love dragons, and this book handles dragons with style and grace. You won’t ever mix up a dragon character with a human one. They’re inhuman even in their human disguises, lovers of maths, and they avoid our confusing human emotions at all costs along with pointless niceties like saying “hello” or “goodbye”.

If you like dragons, pick this book up. If you like flawless high fantasy, pick this up. This is definitely one of the best YA books to come out of 2012.

A review copy of this novel was provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Random House!

Best Book of January!

Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: What’s the best book you’ve read this January?

Oooh, tough one when you look at everything I read last month…

I’m going to discount all the comics, which narrows it down to Pandemonium, Seraphina, and Teeth. Seraphina and Teeth are my clear favourites, but if I had to pick one… it’d be Seraphina.

It’s just such a fun, refreshing YA fantasy, (whereas Teeth was a very dark read and quite ruthless with the emotions). My review should be up tomorrow!

TeethSeraphinaBatman: Year OneSaga, Vol. 1PandemoniumBatman: A Death in the FamilySoul Eater NOT!, Vol. 1Soul Eater NOT!, Vol. 2

Emma Maree Reviews: Pandemonium

pandemoniumBook: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium, Book #2

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci Fi/Dystopian/Romance

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and fame.
 
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

I love that title, even though I always feel like it needs an exclamation. Pandemonium! It’s such a great word:

pandemonium [ˌpændɪˈməʊnɪəm]

n

1. wild confusion; uproar
2. a place of uproar and chaos

[coined by Milton to designate the capital of hell in Paradise Lost, from pan- + Greek daimōn demon]
pandemoniac , pandemonic [ˌpændɪˈmɒnɪk] adj

I’ve had a complicated relationship so far with Lauren Oliver. While I loved her debut, “Before I Fall”, and the concept of “Delirium”, the actual book left me flat due to it’s confusing ending.  I also get grumpy about the UK cover redesigns, though “Pandemonium” and upcoming final book “Requiem” have much nicer covers and I’ve actually grown to like them and how they fit in with the “Before I Fall” cover.

Thankfully, “Pandemonium” was full of pleasant surprises. It’s a much tighter-written and ambitious book than “Delirium” was, alternating between the past and the present as Lena adjusts to a hard, scraping-for-survival life in the unregulated Wilds outside the city (‘before’) and sneaks into New York City to tail the son of the president of Deliria-Free America, an organisation that viciously promotes the idea that love is a disease and the only safe humans are those ‘cured’ by a lobotomy-like procedure (‘after’).

Lena is a stronger person, even as she deals with her grief over “Delirium”‘s events realistically, and she’s a much more enjoyable character to follow this time round. Oliver also expands the world laid out in the previous novel, taken it from a sketched-out dystopia into a realistic future society with a lot of moral grey areas.

The scenery descriptions are nicely done, though occasionally repetitive (snow seems to crackle a lot in the Wilds), and the new characters introduced are varied and feel like they have a lot of depth to them. The two story lines also alternated nicely, with very little opportunity for confusion, up until the merging point which felt a bit unclearly defined.

I’m very happy with how “Pandemonium” turned out. While a lot of middle trilogy books can be weak and plotless, “Pandemonium” is miles stronger than “Delirium” and restored my faith in Lauren Oliver’s writing. I’ll be looking forward to reading and reviewing “Requiem” closer to its March release date.

I bought a copy of this novel myself for personal reading, but I’ll note that Hodder & Stoughton have previously provided me with review copies of “Delirium” and “Requiem” in exchange for honest reviews.